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Amazon Innovation Fund Targets Autonomous Vehicles, Last-Mile Tech in 2024

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Amazon’s $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund will target new industries and geographies for 2024.

“Our vision to help accelerate automation and supply chain innovation continues to be a key priority and unlock how we can better deliver for customers and improve our workplace for employees,” Franziska Bossart, the fund’s new head, said in an interview posted on the Amazon news website Wednesday (Jan. 17).

“This year, we want to further establish the fund as a venture investor of choice for innovative startups of all sizes within the robotics, fulfillment, and logistics space,” she added. 

In addition, she said the fund will expand to invest in transportation, including autonomous vehicles and last-mile technologies

“We have gained a lot of momentum going into this year, and we are eager to support more promising startups as they scale to solve the most relevant industrial problems for Amazon and beyond,” Bossart said.

Asked about the trends she expects to see in the industrial technology investment arena this year, Bossart said she imagines seeing more widespread use of things like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to process large amounts of data.

“The groundwork for this technology has been in development for decades, but now we’re seeing many pieces coming together to further drive innovation,” she said. “Advances in perception, AI, manipulation, and control are helping us automate a broader range of tasks.”

As PYMNTS wrote earlier this week, 2024 is shaping up to be the year of AI-focused reorganization among enterprises.

“The integration of artificial intelligence has become widespread, as the technology can optimize resource allocation and help meet evolving customer demands,” that report said. “The tech companies responsible for training and building the world’s most capable AI systems are in the same boat as the firms looking to use and deploy them. They too need to reallocate resources to core initiatives.”

The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund debuted in 2022 with the aim of investing in companies working to “incrementally increase delivery speed,” according to announcements at the time.

Last year saw reports that as of June, 90% of the fund was still unspent, though an Amazon spokesperson told PYMNTS the fund’s investments were on par with similar funds.

Aside from investing in new industries, Bossart said in an interview with TechCrunch that she sees potential in Europe and Asia and would like the fund, made chiefly of early-stage startups, to shift “a little bit” toward investments in later-stage companies.